A Blessing and a Curse: National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo coat of arms includes a writers most valuable necessities.

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The NaNoWriMo coat of arms includes a writer’s most valuable necessities.

Natalie Ramirez, Reporter

Writers across the board, amateurs and professional, have started typing away on their laptops in November for National Novel Writing Month, or rather, NaNoWriMo. Precisely as the name implies, an entire novel must be written within the span of a month. The challenge is not a competition against others, but against a person’s own self.

Chris Baty along with 20 friends were the first to produce 50,000 words each in July of 1999. There were 140 participants the next year and they wrote in November instead for no particular reason. In 2006, NaNoWriMo was officially introduced as a nonprofit organization. Today, over a million people participate and have the opportunity to connect through the website.

The most prominent opponent during this time is writer’s block, or when someone goes blank on what to write next. Writer’s block can be a sign to take a break, but when that isn’t an option writers will follow random prompts which can be their own or come from a prompt generator in the NaNoWriMo website. It is also stressed to never use the “Backspace” and “Delete” buttons. Chris Baty shared, “There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”

Only those who are older than 17 and out of high school must reach 50,000 words, as there is another NaNoWriMo website, the Young Writer’s Program. This website allows young writers to set a personal word goal for the end of the month and join an online classroom with peers and the leading mentor.

Senior orchestra major, Jocelyn Chavez Zapata, took part in last year’s NaNoWriMo with a goal of 5,000 words. When faced with writer’s block, she comments, “I moved to a different section of my writing and started writing a different scene, other times I just brainstormed ideas for possible scenes or plots of the story.” On a scale of difficulty, 10 being the most grueling, she rates the experience 6/10 from devoting hours to the challenge.

Overseeing its growth, Chris Baty is now a Board Member Emeritus for NaNoWriMo and on a quest for the perfect cup of coffee, he believes everyone is capable of turning the story within them into a novel.